Civil Rights groups condemn hate crimes

11/24/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Earlier this month, a Long Island man of Ecuadoran descent, was beaten to death by a group of teenagers simply because he was Latino.

In the wake of that and some other recent incidents, a host of civil rights groups today addressed what they said was the growing amount of hate crimes in the U.S. - particularly against Latinos, who they say have become a target due to the vitriolic rhetoric against illegal immigrants by public officials and members of the news media.

Janet Murguia, president and CEO with the National Council of La Raza, mentioned a couple of incidents that have happened across the country recently.

Karen Narasaki is with the Asian American Justice Center. She called on all policy makers and members of the media to hold themselves more accountable when it comes to what she calls the "scapegoating of immigrants.”

Narasaki called on Congress to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would allow in part for the Justice Department to provide assistance to local communities for the investigations of hate crimes. That bill has actually been passed in the House, but has never gotten through the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, mentioned some high profile racial incidents that occurred right before the election.

Peter Zamora is regional counsel with MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund. He says the country – or aspects of the U.S. – have a problem with hate.

Mark Moriel, president of the National Urban League, said although there may be a backlash by some against the election of the country’s first black president, he said he hopes there is a backlash to that backlash.

To learn more about the code words of hate and what your community can do to combat hate speech, visit

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